Mutai aims for world record in Berlin Marathon
Geoffrey Mutai returns to the flat course of the Berlin Marathon seeking to break the world record and prove Kenyan athletics officials were wrong in leaving him off the Olympic team for London.
The relatively unchallenging course in the German capital has produced seven world records in the past 15 years. The most recent was last year when Patrick Makau ran 2 hours, 3 minutes, 38 seconds in a race that effectively ended the great career of Haile Gebrselassie.
"I can't promise a world record, but I'll try my best," Mutai said ahead of Sunday's race.
Makau, who was also dropped from the Kenyan Olympic team, is skipping the Berlin race this year and will instead run the Frankfurt Marathon on October 28.
"I know that they are capable of setting the fastest time over the flat Berlin course," Makau said of Mutai and the other Kenyans in Berlin. "We have been training together in Eldoret and they are geared up for the event".
Mutai finished second in Berlin behind Makau two years ago, clocking 2:05.10 in a rain-soaked race.
The next year, he ran the fastest marathon in history, winning in Boston in 2:03.02 and then also took New York in 2:05.06. Because of Boston's up-and-down course, his time is not recognised as a world record.
But this year has been anything but good for Mutai.
He struggled in hot conditions and had to abandon the Boston race, one of the factors that prompted Kenyan officials to drop him from the Olympic team. The London gold medal went to Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda.
"I was disappointed not to finish Boston, and the selection was Athletics Kenya's decision," Mutai said. "But it has given me motivation to run well here. ... Because of the hills in Boston you cannot go with the same speed. But the Berlin course is flat, so you can maintain the same speed."
Mutai's training partner and marathon rookie Dennis Kimetto could be another contender, along with another Kenyan, Jonathan Maiyo, who ran 2:04.56 in Dubai in January.
In the women's race, Aberu Kebede of Ethiopia is targeting a sub-2:20 time. She won in Berlin two years ago by running 2:23.58 in driving rain.
"I wanted to come back here, after winning two years ago," Kebede said. "I feel confident I can produce another good result. If everything goes well on Sunday, I think I can run under 2.20. That's my aim."
The forecast is for cool weather, with temperatures between around 8 C (46 F) at the 9 a.m. start, to around 13 C (55 F) by midday, with little or no wind.